5.20.2014

And then we went on vacation

I'll never forget the first time I went on a vacation with kids.  Or more accurately, one kid.  I was a brand new mom and baby Jude was only 6 weeks old.  It was March and Dan and I wanted to escape the long Wisconsin winter and head south to Arizona to soak up some sun and introduce my grandparents who spent the winters there to our new bundle of joy.

Carmel Beach

I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly.  I'll be the first to admit that my expectations as a first-time parent were way off in general .  But, roughly, I expected - a vacation.  And I vividly and distinctly remember having the somewhat startling realization that vacation as a parent is actually not really a vacation at all, but more like same job-different scenery.  (Not exactly like this Onion article, but similar.) ;)

carmel beach

Not ones to be easily discouraged, Dan and I tried a couple of vacations when Jude and Indigo were young, but found them to be more exhausting than our daily routine.  So, outside of traveling to see our extended family, we haven't taken a family vacation since before we adopted Tarikua.

carmel beach

Now that Jude and Indigo are 9 and 7 and old enough to remember vacations, we decided that we wanted to turn over a new leaf and start traveling more as a family.  I asked advice from a parent who traveled all over Europe with a 7 year old and a toddler.  I asked, "Wasn't that exhausting?"  He said, "Oh yes.  So exhausting.  But fun!"  I think that's just how you have to look at it.

carmel beach

We found some great prices on tickets to San Francisco and there is a tattoo artist in Monterey who tattooed Dan when we went to Kauai 5 years ago.  Dan was a huge fan of his work and wanted another piece by him.  So it all came together serendipitously.  We had planned a vacation in February which we had to cancel when our house flooded, so we were all so grateful that this worked out.

carmel beach

The first day was a travel day - we flew into San Francisco and then drove to Monterey, getting there at 3 am our time, 1 am PST.  The kids did great, all things considered, and Jude and Indigo were so helpful.

We spent two days in the Monterey area.  The first day, we were told to go to Carmel beach.  We totally lucked out and they were in the middle of a heat wave there, with temperatures around 88 degrees.  Perfect beach weather.

carmel beach


A sea lion came on shore on that first day.  We were told it was sick and they sent animal rescuers to take it to a sea animal care center.  The kids witnessed the whole thing, which was pretty exciting for them.   Of course they were very concerned about that poor sea lion, but it's not every day that you see an animal rescue!

carmel beach

The next day, Dan spent 10 hours getting his new tattoo - 8 1/2 hours of which were spent actually being tattooed.  Pretty intense, right?  So the kids and I were on our own that day.

The five of us ventured out to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was really, really cool.

monterey bay aquarium

The kids had a great time there - it felt like a mix between an aquarium and a children's museum.  There was so much for the kids to do and they had a fantastic time. 

monterey bay aquarium

After that we walked to the bay in Monterey where the beach was more gentle and calm.

monterey

Indigo loved finding small crabs there.  She's pretty fearless.

beach finds

Then the kids and I drove back to Carmel beach.

carmel beach

By 7 that evening, Dan's tattoo was finished and we were reunited!


joy

The next day we drove up to San Francisco.  We stayed downtown and spent two days exploring the city.

The first day we were there, the kids walked over 20 blocks to the Fisherman's Wharf.

fisherman's wharf

When we got there, they said, "We walked all of this way just to see some sea lions?!"  That's when we reminded them that it's often about the journey and not the destination.  ;)  We walked through Chinatown and were able to see a lot of the city by walking.  And actually, they were troopers about it and I think even felt proud for having done it.

pier 39

The next day we drove up to see the redwoods.  The kids were completely mesmerized by how enormous they are.  It was definitely worth seeing.

redwoods
 
redwoods

Then later that day we went to the Exploratorium.  The kids thought it was really great.  We walked there - about a mile from our hotel - so we able to see another part of the city.  We did take a trolly back, which the kids loved, too.

Can you believe I went to San Francisco and didn't go to Britex?  There just wasn't enough time to see and do everything.

The next morning, we headed home and had another travel day that thankfully went smoothly. 


redwoods

Vacations with young kids can definitely be challenging, but I am so glad we did it.  This was an amazing part of the country to see.  Most of all,  I think it's so important to spend time together as a family, unplugged, without all of the distractions of home.   To be able to be able to have fun, connect, and focus on one another... together.  

my sleeping angels

Empty nesters with cohesive families have given me that piece of advice: to do fun vacations as a family - and that doesn't have to mean fancy ones.  They also tell me to have regular family game, movie or art nights- or whatever your family likes doing together- where you can give one another your undivided attention and enjoy each other.  I love hearing what has worked well for other families and to me, that sounds like advice worth following. 


20 comments:

  1. Yay for you and Dan!! So glad you decided to try another family vacation - and in one of my favorite parts of the country, no less:) My husband often has business trips in San Fran or Palo Alto, and I am sometimes lucky enough to tag along and even more lucky that I am able to make it to Britex! I admire your self-sacrifice in committing your time to the family/kids rather than your own personal agenda. If the pictures you took are any indication, you made oodles of memories to last for a very long time.
    And speaking of pictures, HOLY COW AMAZING! There were so many that I loved: the top down one of Tarikua with sand covering her legs (what were you standing on?!), the colors of the jellyfish photo, the profile pic in black and white of Tarikua with a blanket wrapped around . . . and the list goes on. You not only had a great vacation, but also captured it so skillfully in photos that speak volumes. I think I'd like to take you along on our next family vacay:)

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    1. You know, Lucinda, about half of those photos were taken with my iPhone, with a filter slapped on! :0 For the one of Tia's legs covered in sand, I simply held the phone over her head and took the photo. I really do think the iPhone takes great photos outdoors. Indoors - not so much. :) And thank you! It definitely wasn't self- sacrifice but I guess I wanted to paint vacation with kids realistically. :)

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  2. So, so lovely. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet up with you!! It is a lot of work traveling with kids, but if nothing else, you've convinced me that we need to take a trip down to the beach .... very soon!!

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  3. So glad you did this! We have been committed to traveling with the kids since they were babies. And, yes....it is quite the effort to make! I think every trip we have taken, I have wondered 'why do we spend the money and make the effort to do this?!' but then I look back on the experiences we have had as a family and the lessons my kids have learned in "living" school and I know it is how our family is meant to do it! I have also declared on our last vacation that I was never taking another vacation again with a nursing baby....and well, with the unplanned little one's arrival fast approaching....I think that will be broken sooner than I think! :) Next up....take your kids to Costa Rica! :) Based on how they seem to love exploring in nature, they will be in their element! Redwoods has been on my list for years....I can still remember going there with my family as a child. Such memories...

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    1. Living school! Yes! I love it!

      I would love to learn more about Costa Rica. Several of my husband's work friends love it, but they don't have young kids. Also my husband said the airport is in the center of the country and you have to travel to the ocean. I need to look into this more and would love to talk with you about it!

      And yes, traveling with a nursing baby is so hard. None of my nursing babies were good sleepers so the exhaustion was only compounded. Dan and I were just saying that Iris' age, 2 1/2 is when it starts to get easier in terms of flying. There was a person a few rows in front of us with a cranky baby and I felt for them. I've been there. On this trip, Iris had plenty of "no" moments, as we like to call them, but it is still much easier than traveling with a baby or young toddler.

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    2. Do you still have my yahoo email address? Send me an email anytime you want more details! We have been 3 times now...once pre-kids, once with 3 kids, and once with 4 kids! :) Our last two trips were for 2 weeks and so we split our time - 1 week at the beach, 1 week in the mountains/rainforest. To be honest, we love the beach....but I love everything else about Costa Rica more than the beach time there. But, the varied landscape and the 'ease' of getting around within the country is what we love. I put 'ease' in quotes because we get lost frequently (!!) BUT there is just SO much to explore....SO much for the kids to learn in a hands-on way....and you can fit in a few stops even in a shorter time span - something that would still include some time in different settings. Email me sometime or I will go on and on! Since we've moved to Vermont...there has been MUCH talk (well, much more than normal, anyway) of just picking up and moving there for 6-12 months. If I weren't due any day....we probably would have bailed back when the temperatures weren't getting out of the single digits week after week! :)

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    3. Oh, and one more thing....there is an airport on the Pacific coast that we actually flew into on our last trip. We then flew home from San Jose which is centrally located...but it gave us that last week in the rainforest. All other times we flew to/from San Jose and still had some beach time. Lots of options!

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    4. Thanks so much for all of the great info, Shannon. And I actually don't have your email address but would love to have it! It's not on your blogger account, which is why I always respond to you here. :) Can you email me at rdkovac@satx.rr.com ? I would love that! :) Happy weekend.
      xo

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  4. Looks wonderful. Beautiful photos! We, too, have found traveling with our kids to be exhausting, but at each overseas post we try to go see something even if it means we spent more time recovering from the vacation than vacationing itself ... it will get easier as they get older. At least that is what I tell myself.

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  5. Looks like you had a wonderful vacation! We've been traveling all over the world with our three kids, and I must say: as they get older I find it harder. Small kids are easy, at least mine were. They never complained, thought that every temple, beach, city was awesome, they ate everything. Now that the eldest are 10 and 12 they start to want their own way more, they get fussy about eating, they just want to be in a pool all day… So enjoy traveling while they're young!! :-)

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  6. Lots of gorgeous photos!!

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  7. Wow! You guys did a lot! I'm exhausted just reading the post! :)
    We just booked a camping trip for the summer and my mom tried to convince me to leave the little one with her. She said "won't it be hard camping with a two year old?". And I told her that yeah, it would probably be hard, and exhausting, and down right miserable at times (as past camping trips with the kids have been). But the kids absolutely love it so for a couple days the grown folks just have to suck it up. The things we do for our kids!
    And your pics - as always - are just gorgeous!

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  8. Oh, that brings back memories! I grew up in Northern CA, so we vacationed to these places too. I'll never forget the Sea Lion cave in Oregon (totally go, if you're ever there). And the redwoods are the location of our first family video. Actually, I'm trying to plan a weeks-long road trip around the country with another homeschooling mom of 2 (our husbands will be working) for next spring. I so much want to show my kids many things on the west coast that were special experiences for me as a child. This is all pending not-pregnant. haha. Maybe if we do the road trip, we'll stop in to see you in Tx =)

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  9. What beautiful pictures and it looks like a lovely trip! One of the benefits of homeschooling must be the freedom to head off on a vacation whenever it best works for your family. And I had to laugh at the "same job-different scenery" part because it is so true! Last summer we went on a couple trips with family and that was quite lovely. My daughter was completely entertained with two parents, two grandparents, and an aunt!

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  10. Woah I was about to say how impressed I was that you lugged your DSLR around to the beach, and then I just read you took most of these with your iPhone?! Nicely done! Gorgeous photos, and I think it's great you got out with your four "big kids" before the little one comes along and possibly grounds you for a while again. Looks like you made some awesome memories.

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  11. What great fun and lovely memories. In the last pic, Iris looks so much like my little Emily:))

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  12. This is all very beautiful. I can just imagine how impressive you must have looked, temporarily solo-parent, pregnant, on the beach with all these perfect kids running around. Super mum!
    I adore giant trees and the picture of all the kids on the one tree is just stunning!

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  13. Beautiful photos and beautiful family! My husband and I got married on the beach in Monterey and went to a lot of the same places you went to too. That was before we had kids but we would love to take them there some day. I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation! xx

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  14. Looks like you had a great family vacation! We love going on holidays (vacation), and we've taken our kids all over the world. It's getting so much easier for us now that Lucy is 3, but we still agree that our best holiday was to Prague with Alexander when he was 4 months old. Portable bed and portable food meant we could stay out all evening! We have the best memories from our family vacations, both near and far, even if it takes almost as long to recover from the trip as the trip itself! If you can manage the time to make a little photo album/photobook of your trip, your kids will love it and live off the memories for a really long time!

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  15. Looks like you had a great family vacation! We love going on holidays (vacation), and we've taken our kids all over the world. It's getting so much easier for us now that Lucy is 3, but we still agree that our best holiday was to Prague with Alexander when he was 4 months old. Portable bed and portable food meant we could stay out all evening! We have the best memories from our family vacations, both near and far, even if it takes almost as long to recover from the trip as the trip itself! If you can manage the time to make a little photo album/photobook of your trip, your kids will love it and live off the memories for a really long time!

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